View Full Version : Nellybelle progress and problems...

12-21-2018, 12:36 AM
So I posted an intro thread a couple of weeks back. Digging into this old '46 CJ-2A that sat in Roy Rogers & Dale Evans museum for many years. I'm a car detailer and automobile collection manager by trade for the most part and a reasonably competent mechanic on my own vehicles. I don't often get to do much mechanical work for my clients but this old Jeep has been an interesting change of pace for me.

I don't think anyone had driven Nellybelle much for probably 40+ years and it needs most everything. I started with the brakes and went with all brand new stuff from master cylinder to hard lines to soft lines, wheel cylinders, drums, and shoes . . . That was a bit of a project but it's finally wrapped and hopefully good for another generation. Also did fuel sending unit and new fuel line from tank to carburetor because the previous line was not done well and looked pretty dangerous as it rubbed against the frame in many places.

Next up is the new wiring harness, switches, gauges, and 12 volt conversion and I have a feeling this is going to really be difficult. I'm not much of a fabricator. I purchased the alternator kit (and everything else) from the site here. The alternator bracketry is pretty crude and the pre-drilled holes are slightly off, but it's also straightforward in a rather Rube Goldberg fashion. I thought I'd get the old, dead, generator out this afternoon and get the alternator fitted. The brackets have a lot of adjustment options for different alternators and different Jeeps. There was also not much instruction included which was a little disappointing considering the price paid.

I managed to get the bracket in place, and fitted the alternator to it on the bottom where it pivots for belt adjustment. My current problems are 1) the rod coming from the block with the long slot for belt adjustment isn't even close to where the alternator needs it to be. I'm going to have to locate another, longer and possibly curved adjustment rod, and it will also have to have a zig and a zag in it in order to suitably connect to the alternator top bolt. 2) the oil filter setup above the alternator appears to be original Jeep, but the alternator interferes with the bottom of it where the hose comes out. I may be able to raise the filter setup a bit and re-route the hose to solve this problem.

I realize I'm not re-inventing the wheel here and I'm sure some of you all have had similar issues with this swap. We're trying our best to maintain the aged look of this but the goal is to make it a safe and dependable driver. Any suggestions would be appreciated. If any of you Jeep gurus are in North San Diego County, hit me up and you could probably see it in person :-)


12-21-2018, 12:45 AM


Fortunately the engine seems to run excellent. Clutch and transmission operation is also acceptable. At some point in it's life the shift linkage for the transfer case broke off and it was never repaired. For another unknown reason lost to history, the front wheels were replaced with 15", while the rears are still 16" (maybe vice versa). Either way, there's a significant difference in diameter of the front and rear tires so 4WD is a non-issue on this Jeep, at least for now. We really don't want to change it from how it was on television back in 1950's and early 60's. I'm trying to watch as much old video as I can to ensure that and possibly make it even more so if I find things that have been altered over the years.

12-21-2018, 12:55 AM
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Not sure if these photos will show up as I used the URL instead of downloading them to my computer first.

There is a second pulley available, inboard of the first. would it make sense to play with the bracketry and shift the alternator rearward enough to use that pulley for alternator only and get a separate, shorter belt?
If there's anyone who's done any of this stuff or experienced similar fitment issues, I'd love to discuss.

Thanks for looking!


12-23-2018, 08:45 PM
The alternator bracket is a bit of a one size fits most. We talk a lot on here about Jeep soup. In short, it's fair to say that all Jeeps are a conglomeration of parts that have been taken apart and modified. It is extremely rare if ever to find an unmolested example.
If the second groove works best for the belt alignment, then use it. The only down side to that would be the original generator acted as the belt tensioner. An M38A1 water pump pulley is a double belt pulley, but that may not clear the body of the 2A water pump. The alternator adjuster bracket may need to be fabricated. You may find that a 283/350 Chevy alternator bracket might get you close, then the mount will need modified.

12-27-2018, 12:26 PM
I think I got it sorted out! Thanks for the reply. The slotted tensioner rod that was used for the generator was mounted at a lower point on the block. I'm using a mounting point higher up where one side of the thermostat housing is bolted to the block. That and a very short spacer I made seem to have it all fitting fairly well. I'm doing the wiring harness now, so I have not had an opportunity to actually drive it around all mounted up, but certainly will soon enough. I'll be searching this site for harness photos now so that I get the wiring run and routed correctly.

12-27-2018, 09:30 PM
Good to hear. There is a good wiring diagram on Kaiser's web site, but a Google search can provide the 12 volt conversion.

12-28-2018, 08:48 AM
When we restored the '48, I had every intention of building my own wiring harness.

But ...

As I looked at the actual details of doing it, I saw that there were a variety of wire gauges and colors, a lot of terminals to be crimped and after all of that, I would have had a harness with obviously "new" plastic wires.

There is a lot to recommend a new harness from KWAS. First of all, it will be done with cloth covered wire with wire colors and tracers that match the original. It will be the right length. You will have to do some accommodating to adapt to the 12-volt conversion, but if you Google "cloth covered automobile wire", there are lots of places out there that have a variety of colors, gauges and tracers available. Once you get to pricing wire, you might be surprised at how little money you will save by building your own harness.

When you get to building or adding to the harness, several suggestions:

1. Use the terminals correct for the wire gauge you are using. We've all seen guys trim wires out of a #14 wire to get it to fit in the #16 terminal they are using. Yuckkkk .

2. Get yourself a good wire stripper. The one on the handle of the hardware store crimping tool really isn't the stripper you want to use.

3. Use a good crimping tool. The hardware store tool is OK for this if it's tight and the jaws line up.

4. Figure out the correct strip length and don't under or over strip. The insulation should just butt up against the metal crimp ferrule of the terminal and the wire should just peek out of the other end of the ferrule.

The pictures show how a KWAS harness looks after it's installed - nice. Let us know what happens.

In the famous words of Roy's sidekick: " WHOOOAAAAA Nellybelle!"

12-28-2018, 08:28 PM
I concur with LarrBeard. The cloth covered would be the most accurate looking. 3M makes great heat shrink terminals and connectors. If still trying to keep with the historical look, a section of heat shrink can cover up the color of the 3M terminal.

01-03-2019, 12:12 PM
I have the harness mostly installed. I had to do a few modifications as the ignition key had been moved to left of the steering wheel at some point so I had a few short wires. Quality connectors and heat shrink tubing kept things looking pretty nice. I did end up with one plastic wire going from ammeter to alternator but I'll either replace it with a cloth covered one or simply slip it through some extra cloth tubing / shrouding that's leftover from not needing the right tail light wiring. I have to cover the yellow wire that came with the alternator anyway. Still have some clearance issues with the bottom of the oil filter being too close to the top of the alternator, but it's so close that I think I can just use a die grinder and hog out the mounting holes a little to raise it up.

My brake light switch had male connectors, and so did the harness, so I had to remove them and install female bullet connectors there.

I'm not sure if the new temperature gauge works or not. I think the engine just runs incredibly cool. Is that normal? It idled for ten minutes and then I took it for about a three mile drive last night, then let it idle for awhile longer. The gauge barely came off the peg, but the engine felt barely warm too, so we'll see. . .

The oil pressure seems low at idle but jumps to a normal level at higher RPM. Engine is not a powerhouse but seems to run fine. Trans shifts well. Clutch might be a little weak but I'm not going to sweat it at the moment. It might be just fine.

The ammeter started off working well (although it moved left on charge and right on draw. If I swap the wiring in back will it move the "correct" way?) and voltage at the battery while idling was just a tick over 14, which seems about right. After checking a few things over and restarting, ammeter is now very shakey, bouncing all over. Voltage at battery is still consistent at 14.1 at idle. Not sure what's up with that. I might just delete it altogether and go with the voltmeter instead, but I'm disappointed that the voltmeter has a chrome bezel and all other gauges are black bezel. Also, it looks like the alternator instructions call for a 100 amp fusible link if I'm using the ammeter, which I have not yet installed. Any insights on that?

Fuel gauge didn't work initially, but now seems to be working? I'm not sure what to do with the - (negative) post on that. Does the gauge need to be grounded? I have the S post going to the sending unit, and the + post going to the coil side of the ignition switch. It seems to read high as I know there are only about 4-5 gallons in the tank and it's reading about 7/8 tank. Maybe adjust the float by bending it some?

I really wanted to drive it a bit as I hadn't checked the brakes yet. They seem to work well (all brand new everything). Not super strong as I could not get them to lock up and pedal seems a little low / spongy so I think I need to bleed them one more time. I may not have gotten the master cylinder bled well enough. Do I need to remove it if I need to bleed it again? Either way, the brakes are currently acceptable and don't pull right or left and they're not terrifying like they were when I first drove this thing a month or so ago!

There was no speedometer cable in the thing at all, so I'm trying to get that figured out. Not sure if I need just the cable or the gears and everything.

All for now,


01-03-2019, 05:21 PM
I forgot about the horn . . . Not sure how the heck to run the wiring for that. Do I need to remove the steering column to get a wire through it? I've got the nut off the steering wheel center, and it's got a tiny horn button in the middle, spring underneath, and what looks like the remnants of some electrical horn button connection under the button but the wire only goes about six inches into the center of the steering column and has been cut off at some point. No remnants of wire coming out the bottom of the column either. If anyone has a little insight on this, it would be appreciated.


01-06-2019, 06:07 PM
Good Lord... After reading what information I could find regarding the horn wiring, I'm putting a button on the dash and calling it good for now. What a crazy mess that whole thing is to pull the whole column apart and such. Nope. Not gonna do it. Project for another year. Nellybelle's got a trolley bell on the floor anyway!

01-06-2019, 06:59 PM
You can mount the horn button up under the dash to not detract from the original look. The original horn set up isn't as bad as it sounds. The horn button spring is usually weak or broken. Then the wire can be broken. The wire can be checked for continuity. If the wire is not broken, then the contact can be checked at the lower part of the steering column. The wire can be replaced by either soldering the end of the new wire to the end of the old wire, then pulling the new wire through. If the old wire is broken, run a piece of filler rod up from the contact, then attach the new wire to the filler rod and pull through. Haines garage has a good step by step pictorial and instructions to follow. It isn't as hard as it seems.

01-06-2019, 08:19 PM
I was checking Haines out. Pretty explanatory. Still looks like a good bit of disassembly required. I know the wiring to the steering wheel is gone. Not sure about what's inside the column, the brass sleeve ring, brush, or anything else. Not a huge deal to dig into it a little more, but a button will probably suffice until I get time to dig deeper.

02-22-2019, 06:56 AM
This morning on ewillys, there was an add for a commissioned replica of Nellybelle for sale on Craig's List. It was commissioned by Dusty Rogers, Roy's son.


02-22-2019, 12:14 PM
pretty much self explanatory, two kinds of mechanical works long thin rod that goes to horn button on bottom of steering gear and short one, both are available and no the steering column does not have to come out but maybe a new rod and mechanical connection needs to be replaced


this is for m38a1 but you get the idea